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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.

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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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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;

 

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  • 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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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

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savoring Pinoy Delights: THE LUSCIOUS LANZONES

I look forward to the early -ber months in Laguna because I can enjoy one of my favorite seasonal fruits, the lanzones!

 

 


Z-lanzones-dami-2

For our foreign readers, LANZONES (Lansiumparasiticum) is a seasonal, tropical, exotic, and edible fruit which originated in West Malaysia and is widely grown in the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia.

 

1-lanzones

Clustered like grapes, this fruit is elliptical, ovoid, or round, measuring 2-7 cm (0.79-2.76 in.) by 1.5-5 cm (0.59-1.97 in.) in size.

It has a thin, leathery, slightly-fuzzy yellow skin that varies in thickness from 2-6 mm (0.079-0.24 in.). The yellow skin will gradually develop brownish-black spots as the days go by as this fruit spoils quickly and does not have a long shelf life. So, eat it immediately after purchase. My advice is to buy only what you can consume within 2 days.

 

Z-lanzones-dark-na

This year, fruits were harvested in early September in Laguna, and priced at 80-90 pesos per kilo (2018). I personally prefer the smaller variety since I find that they are sweeter and have smaller seeds, if any at all.

Lanzones is known under a variety of common names worldwide: bhubi (Bengali), bon bon (Vietnamese), buahan (Cebuano), buwa-buwa (Tagalog), ceruring (Balinese), dau da dat (Vietnamese), dhuku (Javanese), dokong (Malay), duku (Burmese, Indonesian, Malay), gaduguda (Sinhalese), kokosan (Indonesian), langsak (Burmese), langsat (English, Indonesian, Malay, and Thai for thin-skinned variety), langseh (Malay), langsep (Javanese, Malay), lansa (Malay), lansones (Cebuano. Tagalog), lanzones (English), lon bon (Vietnamese), long kong (Khmer), longkong (Thai, for thick-skinned variety), lotka (Bengali), and pangkai (Mizo language).

The larger variety of lanzones is called Duku. It has large round fruits, a thicker skin, and some consider it sweeter than the smaller variant.The hybrid between Duku and Langsat is called Duku-Langsat. Another variation is Longkong, or Dokong, introduced in Indonesia and Thailand. This variant has a thick skin, sweet aromatic taste, no latex, only a few seeds or is seedless.1

Lanzones is grown in different parts of the Philippines: Camiguin (known to yield the sweetest lanzones during the month of October), Laguna (fruits harvested from September to November, depending on the onset of typhoons and strong winds which may affect the flowering stage), Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, and Northern Mindanao.2

The Lanzones Festival is held annually in Camiguin Island for 4 days during the 3rd week of October, to celebrate their lanzones harvest, the precious livelihood of the residents there.3

Legend says that this fruit was originally poisonous.3 The name itself, lanzones, comes from the Filipino term for poison – lason! It is said that there was once a town with bountiful trees which bore round and pale-colored fruits, but the people were afraid to eat them. They saw a man who tried to eat a fruit, but he died as soon as it touched his lips. This made the people afraid of even touching the fruit. Then, one day, the town suffered from drought, food became scarce, and the people became hungry. Suddenly, a mysterious lady came to town, sang and danced in the streets, picked a fruit from the poisonous tree, pinched it, and ate it. To the amazement of the people, the lady did not die. She claimed that as she pinched the fruit, she took out the poison. She then asked the townfolk to eat the fruits, and famine eventually ended.2

A second version of its origin goes like this: lanzones was poisonous and extremely sour but one day, a woman (believed to be the Virgin Mary) and Her Child (the Baby Jesus) travelled along a road, were very hungry, and found only lanzones trees all around. Having no other option to eat, they ate the fruits and, henceforth, the lanzones became edible and sweet.4

The fruits, when allowed to ripen on the branches of the tree, are attractive to flying animals at night, like bats. The people from Paete, Laguna, in the Philippines, hang kerosene lamps on the trees to repel bats and other nocturnal animals.1

When completely ripe, the fruit is eaten as is, or added to cooked/processed dishes/items. Its thin skin is opened by pinching/squeezing the stem end until the skin opens and is then further easily peeled back to reveal about 5-6 translucent white, smooth, juicy and sweet (sometimes, a bit tart or sour) fleshy segments, which, together, may have 1-3 dark green, bitter-tasting, inedible seeds of different sizes. Break the segments apart, and eat them one by one. Discard the inedible seeds, if any.

 

Z-lanzones-peeled

Peeling may yield a milky latex, especially when newly picked/harvested, that may stain your fingers with a slightly sticky blackish-brown sap. Personally, I do not mind this sap because this fruit is one of my top favorite fruits.

However, if you are turned off by the black sap on your fingertips after consuming a sizeable amount of this fruit, worry no more! There are 5 ways to avoid/address this concern: (a) use a paper towel when removing the skin; (b) apply oil to your fingertips to avoid the stickiness; (c) dip the fruit into boiling water to eliminate the sticky substance; (d) apply alcohol on stained fingers and wipe off with a paper napkin;or, (e) my dear father taught me to simply rub my stained fingers through my hair several times till all the sticky sap is gone. He said the natural oil in my hair removes the sticky, sappy dark stains, and you know what? It works! But if I do this, I see to it that I shampoo my hair thereafter. Try all these techniques and tell me what really works for you!

Lanzones is used in beverages, desserts, fruit salads, jams and jellies. Its fleshy segments are added to curries and soups. These are also added to other fruits like bananas, pomegranates and strawberries, to make popsicles.3

Each segment contains fructose, glucose and sucrose. It also contains carbohydrates, fiber, pantothenic acid, protein, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), C, and minerals, such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.This fruit is low in fat so this is good for weight-watchers! It has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties, as well as an abundance of natural antioxidants (e.g., polyphenols) that can help the body to fight disease-causing free radicals.5

 

Z-lanzones-bunch

This fruit is considered a healthy snack for people with diabetes because of its high fiber content, along with the presence of the antioxidant polyphenol, which improves glucose levels by slowing down the absorption of sugar.3

 

z-lanzones-dami

There are no known side effects when eating this fruit. However, this fruit is known to cause gas so overconsumption is not good for people who easily bloat. Also, pregnant women should consult their doctors before eating lots of this yummy fruit.3

The bark, leaves and/or segments are known to: aid in weight loss; be effective in de-worming; boost the immune system; cure dysentery, malaria, scorpion stings and ulcers; improve metabolism; reduce cholesterol levels; regulate blood sugar levels; relieve diarrhea and eye inflammation; and treat bloating and fever.

Did you know that the dried skin of lanzones is traditionally used in the Philippines as a natural mosquito repellant? I recall my Dad who used to sun-dry the peels and light them up in our terrace during night time. The smell was pleasant and guess what? I had no mosquito bites!

So, what are you waiting for? Go to your nearest fruit stand while supply lasts!

Most of the information was obtained from the Wikipedia page, “Lansium parasiticum”.6

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

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1www.choosephilippines.com

2www.onlyfoods.net

3www.tagaloglang.com/lansones

4www.marketmanila.com

5www.livestrong.com

6”Lansium parasiticum,” accessed September 8, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lansium_parasiticum

 

Short and Simple: OATH FOR A BETTER BORACAY

All tourists who will visit Boracay starting October 26, 2018, its soft opening day, will be asked to sign an oath – the “Oath for a Better Boracay” – as follows: *

“I hereby solemnly swear, as a visitor of Boracay island, that I will, to the best of my ability, help ensure its preservation and sustainable development, and follow/observe environmental laws and regulations.”

This oath is a tourist’s solemn promise/pledge regarding his/her actions/behavior as a responsible visitor of Boracay. If all visitors are responsible tourists, there will be a positive impact on the community and the island as a whole. Let us see if this will really help make a better Boracay.

This oath was created by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF), consisting of  three government departments – the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Tourism (DoT), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

DoT Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said: “We encourage everyone who sets foot in Boracay to be the best and most responsible tourist that you can be. Practice sustainable tourism and respect the island, and you’ll just keep it more fun for the generations to come.”*

Dear tourists, by affixing our signatures, we are giving our word of honor that we will abide by the environmental laws/regulations of this destination.

Meanwhile, can the stakeholders of the other tourist destinations, nationwide, get their act together, benchmark from the Boracay experience, and adopt the same tourist oath or make their own oath to make visitors affirm their commitment to help in the destinations’ preservation and sustainable development?

See related posts: Seniors, Now You Know! – BORACAY: UPDATED LIST OF DOT-ACCREDITED ACCOMMODATION ESTABLISHMENTS AS OF OCTOBER 25, 2018Say, Say, Say: WHAT CAN WE EXPECT DURING THE REOPENING OF BORACAY ON OCTOBER 26, 2018?Short and Simple: WHAT IS THE TOURIST CARRYING CAPACITY FOR BORACAY’S 2018 RE-OPENING? and Say, Say, Say – BORACAY: PARADISE CLOSED TO BREATHE, TO HEAL! (April 26 – October 25, 2018)

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you regarding your comments on the reopening of Boracay and its visitor’s oath. 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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*www.philstar.com

Seniors, Now You Know! – BORACAY: UPDATED LIST OF DOT-ACCREDITED ACCOMMODATION ESTABLISHMENTS AS OF OCTOBER 25, 2018

The Department of Tourism (DoT) released the October 25, 2018 list of accredited accommodation establishments, for a total of 157 establishments, accounting to 7,308 rooms. These establishments have complied with all the requirements of the Department of Natural Resources (DENR) as well as the Department of Interior and Local Government(DILG) andwere accredited by the DoT.  They are therefore allowed to accept booking reservations and operate as of October 25, 2018.*

  Name of Accommodation Establishment  

Location

Number of Rooms
1 357 Boracay Resort Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 10
2 8 Colors Beach House Resort Station 2, Sitio Manggayad, Brgy. Balabag 8
3 A-Rock Beach Resort Station 3, Sitio Ambulong, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 16
4 Alice in Wonderland Beach Hotel Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 21
5 Aloha Boracay Hotel Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 61
6 Alta Briza Resort Brgy. Balabag, Main Road 108
7 Alta Vista de Boracay Brgy. HagdanYapak 408
8 Amable Suites Hotel Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag 18
9 Astoria Current Resort Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 205
10 AV Seven Resort Station 2, Sitio Manggayad, Brgy. Balabag 7
11 Azalea Hotels & Residences Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 284
12 Bamboo Boracay Resort Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 60
13 Bans Beach Resort Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 27
14 Bei Kurt Und Magz Inn Angol, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 4
15 Beachcomber Resort Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 14
16 Best Western Boracay Tropics Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 64
17 Boracay Amor Apartments Diniwid, Brgy. Balabag 18
18 Boracay Sunset Beach Resort Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 9
19 Blue Coral Resort Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 5
20 Blue Lotus Hotel Boracay Station 2, Main Road, Brgy. Balabag 14
21 Blue Marina Boracay Station 2, Sitio Manggayad, Brgy. Balabag 12
22 Blue Waves Beach House Hotel Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 5
23 Bora Sky Hotel Brgy. Balabag, Main Road 13
24 Boracay Haven Resort Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 63
25 Boracay Haven Suites Station 1, Main Road, Brgy. Balabag 82
26 Boracay Holiday Beach Resort Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 69
27 Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 52
28 Boracay Sands Hotel Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 52
29 Boracay Summer Palace Resort Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 48
30 Boracay Travelodge Beach Resort Station 2, Sitio Manggayad, Brgy. Balabag 40
31 Boracay White Coral Hotel Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 5
32 Calypso Resort Hotel Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 22
33 Canyon de Boracay Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 31
34 Casa Fiesta Resort Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 5
35 Casa Pilar Beach Resort Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 84
36 Chateau de Boracay Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 18
37 Club Manila East Boracay Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 13
38 Coast Boracay Isles Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 59
39 Coco Loco Beach Resort Angol, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 17
40 Crystal Ocean Resort Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 7
41 Crimson Resort & Spa Boracay Punta Bunga, Yapak 192
42 Culpepper Lodge Station 2, Sitio Manggayad, Brgy. Balabag 5
43 Dave’s Straw Hat Inn Station 3, Sitio Ambulong, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 11
44 Diniview Villas/Dinview Management, Co. Diniwid, Brgy. Balabag 20
45 Discovery Shores Boracay Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 99
46 Dee and Timmy Side Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 27
47 El Centro Beach Resort Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 39
48 El Moro Beach Resort Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 9
49 El Puerto Boracay Station 2, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 21
50 Eriko’s House Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 50
51 Ernest’s Place Resort Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag 21
52 Escurel Inn Station 3, Sitio Ambulong, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 15
53 Eurotel Boracay Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 104
54 Fairways & Bluewater Resort Station 1, Brgy. Yakap 700
55 Faith Village Gardens Station 3, Sitio Ambulong, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 34
56 Fat Jimmy’s Resort Boracay Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 16
57 Frendz Boracay Hostel Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 8
58 Frendz Resort Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 19
59 GT Hotel Boracay Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 19
60 Gracia’s Inn Station 3, Sitio Ambulong, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 6
61 Green Monkey Resort Boracay Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 6
62 Greenyard Inn Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 5
63 Hampstead Boutique Hotel Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 8
64 Hannah Hotel Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 15
65 Hey Jude Resort Hotel Station 2, D’Mall, Brgy. Balabag 24
66 Hey Jude South Beach Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 19
67 Hotel Soffia Brgy. Yakap 58
68 Hostel Avenue Brgy. Balabag 3
69 Hue Hotel (Luana Hotel) Main Road, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 127
70 Il Mare Sakura Resort Balabag Plaza, Brgy. Balabag 34
71 India Boracay Resort Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 10
72 Isla Azul Boracay Hotel Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag 14
73 Isla Gecko Resort Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 16
74 Island Inn Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 26
75 Island Nook Hotel Brgy. Balabag 13
76 Jeffrey S Hotel Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag 15
77 Jejsellends Garden Cottages Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 14
78 Jony’s Beach Resort Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 21
79 Jony’s Boutique Hotel Station 1, Main Road, Brgy. Balabag 22
80 Jung’s Resort Station 3, Sitio Manggayad, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 24
81 La Banca House at Boracay Station 3, Sitio Angol, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 11
82 La Bella Casa de Boracay Brgy. Balabag 20
83 La Carmela de Boracay Hotel and Convention Center (Main) Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 202
84 La Fiesta Resort Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 5
85 Lady Jean Resort Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 7
86 Lanterna Hotel Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag 6
87 Lishui Beach Resort Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 9
88 Lime Hotel Boracay Main Road, Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 46
89 Lugar Bonito Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 6
90 Luxx Boutique Hotel Boracay Station 2, Sitio Manggayad, Brgy. Balabag 11
91 M. N. Boracay Lodge Inn Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 8
92 M. R. Holidays Hotel Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 15
93 Mad Monkey Boracay Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag 30
94 Madid’s Inn Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 13
95 Maja’s Place Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 15
96 Maxima de Boracay Hotel Station 2, Main Road, Brgy. Balabag 8
97 Mecasa Hotel Brgy. Bolabog 19
98 Microtel by Wyndham Boracay Diniwid, Brgy. Balabag 51
99 Miliflores de Boracay (JinjiangInn) Station 1, Main Road, Brgy. Balabag 10
100 Moreno’s Cottages Station 3, Sitio Ambulong, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 6
101 Moreno’s Lodging Station 3, Sitio Ambulong, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 6
102 Movenpick Resort & Spa Boracay Punta Bunga, Yakap 312
103 Namaste Guesthouse Main Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 2
104 Nigi-NigiNuNoo’s ‘e’ NunuNoos Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 37
105 Nirvana Beach Resort Station 2, Main Road, Brgy. Balabag 32
106 Ocean Breeze Inn Station 3, Sitio Ambulong, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 7
107 One Crescent Place Hotel Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 20
108 Paradise Garden Resort Hotel & Convention Center Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 463
109 Piccolo Hotel Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 60
110 Pinjalo Resort (Jade Hill Project Property Development, Inc.) Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 24
111 Punta Rosa Boutique Hotel Sitio Sinagpa, Brgy. Balabag 12
112 Quoalla Hotel Boracay (Blu Reef Café Resort) Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 11
113 Ralph’s Place Boracay Bolabog 29
114 Real Maris Resort & Hotel Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 43
115 Red Coconut Beach Hotel Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 50
116 Reef Retreat Beach Resort Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag 12
117 Residencia Boracay Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 23
118 Residencia dela Torre Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 10
119 Roligon Resort Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 12
120 Roy’s Rendevous Resort & Bungalow Station 3, Sitio Ambulong, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 10
121 Royal Park Hotel Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 30
122 Sanders White Resort Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 35
123 Savoy Hotel Boracay Newcoast, Brgy. Yapak 559
124 Sea Wind Resort Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 55
125 Shangri-la Resort Brgy. Yapak 219
126 Shore Time Hotel – Annex Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 12
127 Sol Y Sombra Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 5
128 St. Vincent Cottages (Vicente Aguirre Rooms) Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 27
129 Sulu Plaza Lodge Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 12
130 Sulu Sea Boutique Hotel Diniwid 11
131 Sunshine Place Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 9
132 Sur Beach Resort Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 46
133 Surfside Boracay Resort & Spa Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 14
134 T-Three Apartment Station 2, D’Mall, Brgy. Balabag 15
135 Tan’s Guesthouse Main Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 14
136 Tan’s Guesthouse Annex Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 14
137 Taj Resort and Spa Main Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 11
138 Taj Resort and Spa Annex Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 18
139 The Blue Veranda Suites at Boracay Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 7
140 The District Boracay Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 48
141 The Club Ten Beach Resort Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 20
142 The Ferra Premier by JG Hotel Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag 36
143 The Lazy Dog Cottages Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag 26
144 The Lind Boracay Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 119
145 The Orchids Resort & Villa Station 3, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 23
146 The Orient Beach Boracay Sitio, Hagdan, Brgy. Yapak 11
147 The Rose Pike Boracay Station 3, Sitio Angol, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 6
148 The Strand Boutique Hotel Sitio Sinagpa, Brgy. Balabag 13
149 The Tides Hotel D’Mall, Brgy. Balabag 60
150 Touristers Homeland Apartelle Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 18
151 Two Seasons Boracay Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 34
152 Villa Caemilla Beach Boutique Hotel Station 3, Sitio Angol, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc 39
153 Villa de Oro Beach Resort Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 55
154 Villa Simprosa Station 2, Brgy. Balabag 24
155 Villa Sunset Boracay Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 8
156 White Beach de Boracay Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 5
157 White House Beach Resort Station 1, Brgy. Balabag 30

Just asking, why is 7 Stones Boracay Suites, located in Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag, with 31 rooms, not included in this updated list? It was included in the list dated October 12, 2018 – see my post: Now You Know! – BORACAY’S DRY RUN: 68 ACCREDITED ACCOMMODATION ESTABLISHMENTS

This list will continue to be updated since the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) will continue to accredit existing Boracay hotels and resorts. But for now, only deal with these 116 establishments.

I will give updates on this matter.

See related posts: Say, Say, Say – BORACAY: PARADISE CLOSED TO BREATHE, TO HEAL! (April 26 – October 25, 2018)Say, Say, Say: WHAT CAN WE EXPECT DURING THE REOPENING OF BORACAY ON OCTOBER 26, 2018?, Short and Simple: WHAT IS THE TOURIST CARRYING CAPACITY FOR BORACAY’S 2018 RE-OPENING? and Short and Simple: OATH FOR A BETTER BORACAY

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you regarding your comments about the reopening of Boracay. 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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*https://www.facebook.com/DepartmentOfTourism/

Say, Say, Say – BORACAY: PARADISE CLOSED TO BREATHE, TO HEAL! (April 26 – October 25, 2018)

When someone mentions BORACAY, what comes to your mind? Powdery white sand beach, swimming with your family and friends in the clear waters, partying at Station 21, picture-taking at Willy’s Rock2, having a massage at the beach front, getting a tattoo, enjoying a beautiful sunset with beer/cocktails among family/friends along the beach, savoring Jonah’sfruitshakes, indulging in Halomangotreats, shopping at D’Mall5?

Personally, I think it is a combination of all of the above, and then some. This prompted me to revisit Boracay on November 2017, 5 months before it was closed. Sad to say, I was so unsatisfied: with the traffic and easy flooding of the narrow main street due to clogged waterways, even with just a brief rainy spell; maneuvering my way through lots of persistent peddlers, massage stations, and tattoo artists along the beach; and, with the endless number of people almost everywhere we went. Garbage disposal and contaminated water remained serious problems, among others. I just wanted a quiet and peaceful island getaway with loved ones. Is that too much to ask?

But Boracay was like a magnet to local and foreign tourists! I cannot blame them! It was ranked second out of 25 beaches in Asia and the 24th in the world in TripAdvisor’s 2018 Travellers’ Choice Awards. It was also named the best island resort by Conde Nast in 2016.6

There were 3.72 million people who went to Boracay in 2017, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.The Region VI – Western Visayas Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council showed that the number of tourists in the island in a day was 18,082, and the tourist arrival increased by more than 160% from 2012-2017.8

So, why was it closed for six months, i.e., from April 26 till October 25, 2018? It is the first time ever in the history of Philippine tourism that an island was closed for rehabilitation!

What really happened? Here is a chronology, somehow, with information which I gathered from various sources:

There were news and exposés in the past involving garbage, sanitation and zoning issues in the island but they all did not last long. Waters along the beaches have experienced algal bloom which environmentalists and some long-time residents claim to be an indicator of pollution and deteriorating water conditions. The local government of Malay (the municipality where Boracay belongs to) and some Malay business operators and residents, on the other hand, insisted that the algal bloom is a natural seasonal phenomenon that usually happens annually in the summer, that it occurred in Boracay even before the island became developed, and said that two major Philippine television networks used photos of algal bloom in the island to “sensationalize” the natural algal phenomenon.

President Duterte called the island a “cesspool” in a business forum held in February 9, 2018, before all executive agencies. Following President Rodrigo Duterte’s comment on the situation in Boracay, the local government of Malay issued a statement in February 19, 2018 accepting the remarks of the president as “constructive criticism” and acknowledged the environmental issues affecting the island. It pointed out that the municipal government entered into a partnership with an architectural firm, Palafox Associates, to formulate a tourism municipal master plan which will involve decongesting Boracay and will implement building regulations in the island.

There were repeated calls for a partial closure of Boracay instead of a total closure. 1-Pacman party-list, a Philippine political party-list advocating for the marginalized and displaced sector of the country, proposed the closure of areas identified as medium to high risk, based primarily on environmental and sanitary standards, but with low risk areas still being able to operate, while the rest of the island will be rehabilitated.

However, it was just a matter of time for the government to temporarily close the beautiful island of Boracay not only because the President himself call the island a “cesspool” but also because a government study revealed that Boracay will be a “dead island” in less than a decade if it will not be rehabilitated soonest.These prompted the various government agencies to get their act together – FINALLY!

 Most of the information in this section was obtained from the Wikipedia page, “2018 Boracay closure and redevelopment”.9

FINDINGS

Eventually, three government departments recommended the island’s closure – the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Tourism (DoT), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), based on the following findings/validation8:

1.There was a high concentration of fecal coliform in the Bulabog beaches located in the eastern side of Boracay Island due to insufficient sewer lines and illegal discharge of untreated waste water into the beach, with daily tests conducted from March 6-10, 2018, revealing consistent failure in compliance with acceptable water standards, with an average result of 18,000 most probable number (MPN)/100 ml, exceeding the standard level of 400 MPN/100ml. Furthermore, the increase in coliform bacteria level (which is indicative of fecal contamination and can cause diarrhea) and longer episodes of algal bloom definitely affected the quality of water for tourists to swim.6

2. Most commercial establishments and residences were not connected to the sewerage infrastructure of the island, and waste products were not being disposed through the proper sewerage infrastructures in violation of environmental laws, rules, and regulations. Excavation revealed that sewage was directly dumped into the sea by at least 300 hotels, resorts, and inns that ignored an ordinance requiring them to build their own sewage and wastewater treatment facilities.6 Waste was dumped into canals meant only for rainwater and surface overflow, or worse, into installed pipes that led directly to the sea. Renovation work in the sewerage system was badly needed.

Boracay Island Water Co., a unit of Ayala-led Manila Water Co. Inc., operates the sewerage network of Boracay which accommodates only 61% of the island. It has two central sewerage plants with a total capacity of only 11.5 million liters/day, one in Barangay Balabag and another in Barangay Manoc-Manoc.16 Alas, only 58% of the treatment plant’s capacity has been utilized since many establishments were not connected to the sewerage systems.

3. Only 14, out of 51 establishments, near the shores of the island were compliant with the provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 9275, or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004. Dirty water resulted in the degradation of the coral reefs and coral cover of the island, which declined by approximately 70.5% from 1988 to 2011, with the highest decrease taking place between 2008 and 2011 during a period of increased tourist arrivals.

4. The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) revealed that:

a. beach erosion was prevalent in the island, particularly along the west beach, where much of the 40 meters of erosion took place in the past 20 years from 1993-2003 (due to storms and extraction of sand along the beach to construct properties and structures along the foreshore), and where discharge of waste water near the shore caused degradation of coral reefs and sea grass meadows that supply the beach with sediments and serve as buffer to wave action;

b. based on the 2010-2015 Coastal Ecosystem Conservation and Adaptive Management Study of the Japan Cooperation Agency, direct discharge of waste water near the shore resulted in frequent algal bloom and coral deterioration, which reduced the source of sand and caused erosion.

5. Solid waste within the island was at a generation rate of 90-115 tons per day, while the hauling capacity of the local government was only 30 tons per day, thus, approximately 85 tons of waste were left in the island daily.

6. Only four, out of nine, wetlands in the island remained due to the illegal encroachment of structures, including 937 identified illegal structures constructed on forestlands and wetlands, 102 illegal structures constructed on areas already classified as easements, and the disappearance of the wetlands, which act as natural catchments, enhanced flooding in the area.

Four of the missing wetlands were said to have been occupied by a shopping mall, a hotel, and around 100 illegal settlers.6

(So this is the reason why, during my November 2017 visit, the roads easily flooded even with light and short rains. I hope they recover and rehabilitate the 5 missing wetlands!)

7. There were problems regarding zoning, construction and environmental regulations. There were encroachments in the beach land, including the easement of 25+5 meters from the shore. Buildings were constructed too close to the shore, on top of the water, and the forest trees and terrain were leveled off to give way to new buildings. Authorities found almost a thousand illegal structures.Structures were built in no-build zones, like in West Cove, near the mountain.11 The government already issued notices to a hundred establishments.12

(I was relieved to see on television that some establishments self-demolished illegal structures even before the closure date.)

8. There was overcrowding, i.e., the number of people in the island was beyond the carrying capacity of the island, i.e., 3.7 million visitors in 2017 with 36,000 residents.

(Definitely, there should be a cap on the number of daily visitors to the island! See related posts: Short and Simple: WHAT IS THE TOURIST CARRYING CAPACITY FOR BORACAY’S 2018 RE-OPENING?

9. The continuous rise of tourist arrivals, the insufficient sewer and waste management system, pollution from boats, and environmental violations of establishments aggravated the environmental degradation and destroyed the very fragile ecological balance of the island, resulting in major damage to property and natural resources, as well as the disruption of the normal way of life of the people therein.

The natural habitats of Puka shells, nesting grounds of marine turtles, and roosting grounds of flying foxes, or fruit bats, were damaged and/or destroyed.

It is necessary to implement urgent measures to address the aforementioned human-induced hazards, to protect and promote the health and well-being of its residents, workers and tourists, and to rehabilitate the island in order to ensure the sustainability of the area and prevent further degradation of its rich ecosystem.

10. There was no master plan for sustainable eco-friendly tourism for Boracay.

11. The island is classified into 377.68 hectares of reserved forest land for protection purposes and 628.96 hectares of agricultural land as alienable and disposable land, according to Proclamation No. 1064 (s. 2006).

(So, why were there structures on such classified lands? Who approved their construction?)

12. The Environmental Management Bureau-Western Visayas (EMB 6) issued a total of 478 notices of violation to establishments in the island for violating environmental laws; 157 were already endorsed to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) and 35 have been slapped with penalties ranging from PHP60,000 to 80,000.13

13. Boracay’s degradation was blamed on the failure of the local government to enforce ordinances on marine conservation, garbage and sanitation, and zoning and construction, among others.6

All these revealed obvious corruption of local government entities so the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) needs to investigate appropriate local officials.

RESULT: A PRESIDENTIAL DECREE TO CLOSE BORACAY AND THE DECLARATION OF A STATE OF CALAMITY TO FAST-TRACT REHABILITATION

Pursuant to the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 (R.A. No. 10121), the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council recommended the declaration of a State of Calamity in the island and its temporary closure as a tourist destination to ensure public safety and public health, and to assist the government in its expeditious rehabilitation, as well as address the evolving socio-economic needs of affected communities.14

On April 4, 2018, the Philippine government announced that Boracay would be closed for 6 months, starting April 26, with checkpoints manned by police officers and soldiers to be set up at piers to turn away visitors from the island and passes would be given to local residents.

Subsequently, on April 26, 2018, the President signed Proclamation No. 475 declaring a state of calamity in the barangays of Balabag, Manoc-Manoc and Yapak (Island of Boracay) in the municipality of Malay, province of Aklan, and the temporary closure of Boracay as a tourist destination to protect the health of the people, promote a healthy ecology, and take care of the nation’s marine wealth. It formalized the six-moth closure of the island to arrest the “human-induced hazards”, to protect and promote the health and well-being of its residents, workers, and tourists, massive cleanup, to fast track its rehabilitation in order to ensure the sustainability of the area, and to prevent further degradation of its rich ecosystem. A state of calamity in three barangays of Boracay (Balabag, Manoc-Manoc, and Yapak) was declared, notwithstanding the lapse of the six-month closure period.7 An estimated PHP1.9 billion will be spent for the 6 month-closure.11

Thereafter, Republic Act 9275 took effect, which required the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to act on problems of pollution and water quality, as well as the formation of the inter-agency task force to reveal problems and violations against environmental and health laws. Specifically, the DENR, through RA No. 9275:8

  1. shall designate water bodies, or portions thereof, where specific pollutants from either natural or man-made source have already exceeded water quality guidelines as non-attainment areas for the exceeded pollutants and shall prepare and implement a program that will not allow new sources of exceeded water pollutant in non-attainment areas without a corresponding reduction in discharges from existing sources; and,
  2. is mandated to coordinate with other concerned agencies and the private sectors, to take such measures as may be necessary to upgrade the quality of such waters in non-attainment areas to meet the standards under which it has been classified, and the local government units to prepare and implement contingency plans and other measures including relocation, whenever necessary, for the protection of the health and welfare of the residents within potentially affected areas.

In June 27, 2018, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) filed a complaint against 17 executive officials, including Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores and Malay Municipal Mayor Ciceron Cawaling on neglect over Boracay. The officials were alleged to have been lax in issuing building permits and to have failed to sufficiently handle illegal development activities on the island.

There are plans for the construction of a third sewerage plant in Barangay Yapak with a capacity of 5 million liters/day. This addition will allow more establishments in the Balabag area to connect to the sewer system.

Despite Boracay’s soft opening to tourism on October 26, 2018, rehabilitation works will continue on the island with its first phase to complete within October 2018. The second phase of rehabilitation is projected to last until mid-2019, and the third phase until the end of 2019.

The Department of Tourism (DoT) will prohibit smoking and drinking of alcohol in public places and the beaches of Boracay, though these activities would be allowed in designated areas, in an effort to reduce cigarette butts and shards from broken alcohol bottles in beaches. Large scale parties, such as “Laboracay”, which draws 60,000-70,000 tourists in 3 days, would no longer be allowed in the island.

Most of the information in this section were obtained from the Wikipedia page, “2018 Boracay closure and redevelopment”.9

THE BITTER PILL: THE DISADVANTAGES OF CLOSING BORACAY

The disadvantages of closing Boracay were:

1. Job loss for 36,000 employees – 19,000 in the formal sector (hotels, resorts, restaurants, dive shops, souvenir shops, tour activity centers, transport providers, etc.) and 17,000 in the informal sector (massage therapists, tattoo artists, vendors in the beach, etc.).Imagine, seven out of ten workers in Western Visayas are in Boracay!6

2. Loss of PHP56 billion tourism revenue, or about 20% of the country’s total tourism receipts7,9– There were 3.72 million people who went to Boracay in 2017, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.7

The government projected that there will be about PHP18-20 billion loss of potential gross receipts as a result of the 6 month-closure of Boracay. Tourist stakeholders in the island projected a loss of PHP30 billion as they estimated that 700,000 bookings by foreign tourists were cancelled in anticipation of the closure, according to the Wikipedia page, “2018 Boracay closure and redevelopment”.9

Airlines going to Boracay have cancelled flights, advised their passengers to rebook, or reroute affected flights, and anticipate losses for the next six months.6 These airlines mounted additional flights to other island destinations.

Almost 2,000 businesses in Boracay were definitely affected as well. Eleven hotels have stated that their combined losses can run up to PHP550 million a year.6

3. The island’s closure will also hit the economy of Aklan province since the large amount of produce and meat products brought to Boracay island usually come from the mainland.16

4. The government’s economic planners said the six-month closure will barely have an impact on tourism-driven growth.6 The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) claims that the revenues from Boracay account for 0.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)1to6 so it is estimated that the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will decline by PHP1.96 billion.11

5. The closure of the island was indeed bad publicity for the Philippines. The Department of Tourism (DoT) ceased marketing Boracay and instead promoted alternative destinations in Western Visayas.6

The DoT needed to fast-track efforts to market alternative tourist destinations immediately after the announcement of the island’s closure. It also needed to have an aggressive marketing strategy when the island re-opens.

This is a challenge for DoT’s new Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat who assumed office on May 2018.

SO, WHAT HAPPENED IN BORACAY FROM APRIL 26 TILL OCTOBER 26, 2018?16

1. The island was totally closed for tourists. No tourists, whether domestic or foreign, were allowed to enter the island. They were stopped at the jetty port on Malay.

2. Residents, workers, and owners of commercial establishments were allowed entry to the island, subject to the presentation of identification cards with specific addresses in any of the three barangays affected by the closure.

3. All government-issued IDs were acceptable as long as they were accompanied with a barangay certification of residence.

4. Cavan Port was the only entry and exit point.11

5. No visitors of Boracay residents were allowed entry, except under emergency situations with the proper clearance of the Boracay Security Committee composed of representatives from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the local government unit.

6. Foreign residents were revalidated by the Bureau of Immigration, and media were allowed entry, subject to prior approval from the Department of Tourism (DoT), with a definite duration and limited movement.

7. Swimming was not allowed anywhere in the island. However, residents were allowed to swim only at Angol Beach in Station 321, from 6am till 5 pm.

8. No floating structures were allowed up to 15 kilometers from the shoreline, including boats and personal water crafts (jet skis).11

9. Priority projects were building drainage, sewerage lines and water treatment facilities which could handle up to 115 tons of waste a day, 30 tons of which should be taken off the island. It was revealed that only 47% of the almost 2,000 commercial establishments in Boracay were connected to existing sewerage lines.

10. The State of Calamity fast tracked the island’s 6-month rehabilitation project – the demolition of illegal structures, proper waste disposal, widening of roads, reaccreditation of business establishments and strict implementation of sewerage treatment plants (STPs), pinpointing wetlands and their preservation, ensuring clean water to swim at the safe level of 400 MPN (most probable number) per 100 ml (milliliters)13, finding solutions for hauling garbage from the island and possible recycling strategies, etc.

11. The local government, and/or designated entity/entities were created and, henceforth, strictly enforced ordinances on marine conservation, garbage and sanitation, zoning and construction, climate change, sustainable tourism and sustainable transportation.

12. Two billion pesos in “calamity funds” was targeted to help displaced workers. Government agencies, like the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), set-up measures/programs to aid displaced workers for six months.

According to DOLE, the Tulong Pangkabuhayan program was launched and provided the jobless 36,000 displaced employees with some financial assistance. The members of the 19,000 formal sector were given PHP24,000 for 6 months or PHP4,200 a month, while the members of the 17,000 informal sector were given PHP9,500 per month under a cash-for-work program.11

OTHER CONCERNS OF BORACAY ISLAND THAT NEED TO BE ADDRESSED ASAP:

1. GAMING IN BORACAY– GO OR NO GO? It was announced that AB Leisure Global Incorporated, a subsidiary of Leisure & Resorts World, formally applied for a license to operate a casino in Boracay as early as 2017. Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)15, then signed an agreement with Galaxy Entertainment, a Macao-based casino operator, in partnership with Leisure & Resorts World Corporation, for a beachfront casino to be built on the island of Boracay, and was given a provisional gaming license, six days before President Duterte ordered the closure of the island.11

However, the President was quoted to say: “I will not allow gambling, I will not even give it to big business.”11

I saw in a television news program Malacañang’s announcement: “No casinos in Boracay, period.” Let us see if this project will push through or not.

2. BORACAY IS STATE-OWNED! Yes, dear Seniors! Pursuant to the Regalian Doctrine, and as emphasized in recent jurisprudence, all lands not privately owned belong to the State.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Presidential Proclamation No. 1064 in 2006 which classified Boracay Island as a “forestland and agricultural land”.15 President Rodrigo Duterte said that the island has never been open to any “commercial exploitation” and remains as a “forestland and agricultural land”. No president has declared the island as a commercial area. Thus, a committee to facilitate the land distribution in Boracay, after the rehabilitation of the island, will be created. Definitely, ownership issues will arise once the government is done with its clean-up of the island.11 But President Duterte vowed to bring Boracay back to its original inhabitants.16

So, the entire island of Boracay is state-owned, except for lands already covered by existing valid titles.8 Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that the Supreme Court has ruled that Boracay is state-owned on a 2008 ruling.11 President Duterte stressed that Boracay belongs to the Filipino people and he will be ready to declare the island as a land reform area once rehabilitated. He also warned businesses in Boracay not to derail efforts to rehabilitate the island. However, he said he would leave it to Congress to determine whether the island would be reclassified for commercial use, but wants Congress to restore Boracay “as a jewel of a destination for tourism”, restore its original beauty, and allow only a strip of commercial area.17

3. ANCESTRAL LAND – President Duterte also added that he would allow ancestral land occupants to benefit from the island.11

The government, in June 2018, announced that it will develop the Ati people’s 2 hectare (4.9 acres) ancestral land in Boracay into an agri-tourism area in an effort to integrate the Ati in the island’s tourism industry. The development will be part of the Department of Agriculture’s Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran ng Kababayang Katutubo (lit. Livelihood and Progress of Filipino Indigenous Peoples; 4Ks) program which was conceptualized by the department’s secretary Emmanuel Piñol. A greenhouse will be set up for vegetable cultivation and a goat farm for the production of milk. An organic restaurant, serving Ati cuisine, and a hostel, will also be set-up along the beach area to be run by members of the Ati people, according to the Wikipedia page, “2018 Boracay closure and redevelopment”.9

BOTTOMLINE:

“Cleaning Boracay is a ‘moral obligation’ because the island is deemed the ‘crown jewel’ of Philippine tourist destinations.” – President Rodrigo Duterte.11

“Tourism is important, but we need to preserve these spaces for our future generations, for future livelihoods.” –ThonThamrongnawasawat, a marine expert in Bangkok.18

The Boracay closure is a bitter pill for all stakeholders, even for just 6 months, but it is the only way for nature to heal somehow. This, however, does not mean that healing is complete, so rehabilitation will definitely be an on-going and sustainable effort!

AND, FINALLY:

This is a wake-up call to other island-destinations in the Philippines. Better get your act together since the government will definitely go, visit, inspect, and check on the status of your destinations! It is just a matter of time.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you. What are your insights regarding Boracay’s closure and rehabilitation? Simply scroll to “Leave a Reply” and enter your comment in the box. Please scroll and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

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1Station 2 is the central part of White Beach19 in the island of Boracay. The water is less shallow than Station120. It offers an active night life (bars and clubs that may offer live music), mid-range priced accommodations, and is known as the shopping area of the island, what with D’Malland D’Talipapa (an area which offers local souvenir items, plusa seafood wet market with nearby restaurants to cook your picks).

2Willy’s Rock is a natural volcanic rock formation along Station 120 of Boracay which is considered an iconic landmark of the island and is popular especially among Catholic tourists since it has a statue of the Virgin Mary carved from the rock several steps up. Its name comes from nearby Willy’s Beach Club Hotel.

Senior tourists, the steps might be slippery so be sure of your footing and wear non-slip footwear. Expect it to be crowded during peak season with non-stop picture taking all around.

3Jonah’s Fruit Shake is a popular beachfront snack house in Barangay Balabag, Boracay, for more than 2 decades, and offers, among others, rich and refreshing fruit shakes. It is dubbed as “The Best Fruit Shake in the Island”.

4Halomango is an ice cream and halo-halo house in D’Mall5, Balabag, Boracay, open from 9 am till 12 am. Good news, loyal customers, they just opened a branch in Panglao, Bohol.22

5D’Mall is the original open-air shopping area located in Station 21,Boracay, which offers various shops and restaurants.

6www.straitstimes.com

7www.abs-cbn.com

8www.officialgazette.gov.ph

9”2018 Boracay closure and redevelopment,” accessed September 8, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boracay_closure_and_redevelopment

10”Boracay,” accessed August 8, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boracay

11www.philstar.com

12www.cnnphilippines.com

13www.pna.gov.ph

14www.ocd.gov.ph

15The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is the government- owned/controlled corporation mandated to generate revenues for the government’s socio-civic programs, to operate and regulate games of chance in the country, and to help boost the tourism industry, according to the Wikipedia page “Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation”.23

16www.news.abs-cbn.com

17www.gmanetwork.com

18www.reuters.com

19The White Beachof Boracay refers to the main, biggest, and most popular beach area of island. It is divided into Stations 1, 2 and 3.19, 1, 20

20Station 1 is the north end of White Beach19 of Boracay which is where the luxurious resorts are located. This station’s beach front is wider, the sand seems whiter, and the water is shallower, compared to the two other stations. It is a quiet station at night, although it has clubs within walking distance. Willy’s Rock2, a natural rock formation and an iconic Boracay landmark, is located in this station. The sand castle designed with “Boracay” and the current date, where one can pose for a picture, for a fee, is also found along the shore in this station. City Mall Boracay, which opened on February 25, 201716, is likewise located here.

21Station 3, located at the opposite end of Station 120 of Boracay’s White Beach19, is known to offer budget accommodations, but also features boutique and other secluded/high-end accommodations. The water here becomes suddenly deep. It is a quiet station, compared to the first 2 stations, although it offers some bars and clubs too.

22https://www.facebook.com/halowich2020/

23 “Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation”, accessed September 8, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Amusement_and_Gaming_Corporation

Now You Know! – BORACAY’S DRY RUN: 68 ACCREDITED ACCOMMODATION ESTABLISHMENTS

After 6 months, BORACAY will finally reopen for both local and foreign tourists on October 26, 2018!

But first, a dry run is scheduled from October 15 – October 25, 2018. It will be open to local tourists, with priority given to Aklanons, in order to assess what else needs to be done before the island is reopened to all tourists.1

I finally found the official list of the 68 accredited accommodation establishments allowed to operate as of October 12, 2018, representing a total of 3,519 rooms3. Expect environmentally-friendly changes in these rooms, like the use of bulk dispensers (instead of shampoo sachets), and the use of refillable glass bottles in bedrooms since single-use plastics water bottles are discouraged.2

So, excited visitors planning their return or first time to Boracay, deal only with these establishments that have complied with the requirements of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF).

Remember, the Department of Tourism (DoT) announced that only accredited establishments are allowed to accept bookings for the reopening of the island. All online promotions and other related collaterals of non-compliant hotels and resorts are to be deleted or put on hold until complete compliance with government regulations have been accomplished. DoT authorities warned that violators will face the full force of the law.2

Here is the list of compliant establishments as of 12 October 2018, plus their respective locations and number of rooms3:

  1. 357 Boracay Resort – Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Station 3 – 10;
  2. 7 Stones Boracay Suites – Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag – 31;
  3. Alice in Wonderland Beach Hotel – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 21;
  4. Astoria Current Resort – Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Station 3 – 205;
  5. Azalea Hotels & Residences – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 284;
  6. Best Western Boracay Tropics – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 64;
  7. Blue Coral Resort – Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Station 3 – 5;
  8. Boracay Haven Resort – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 63;
  9. Boracay Haven Suites – Main Road, Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 82;
  10. Boracay Holiday Resort – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 69;
  11. Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 52;
  12. Boracay Travelodge Beach Resort – Sitio Manggayad,Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 40;
  13. Boracay White Coral – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 5;
  14. Calypso Resort Hotel – Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Station 3 – 22;
  15. Canyon de Boracay – Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Station 3 – 31;
  16. Casa Pilar Beach Resort – Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Station 3 – 84;
  17. Dave’s Straw Hut Inn – Sitio Ambulong, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Station 3 – 11;
  18. Discovery Shores Boracay – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 99;
  19. El Centro Beach Resort – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 39;
  20. Ernest’s Place Resort – Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag – 21;
  21. Fairways & Bluewater Resort – Brgy. Yapak, Station 1 – 700;
  22. Frendz Boracay Hostel – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 8;
  23. Frendz Resort – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 19;
  24. Greenyard Inn – Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Station 3 – 5;
  25. Hampstead Boutique Hotel – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 8;
  26. Hannah Hotel – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 15;
  27. Hey Jude Resort Hotel – D’Mall, Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 24;
  28. Hey Jude South Beach – Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Station 3 – 19;
  29. Hue Hotel (Luana Hotel) – Main Road, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc – 127;
  30. Hotel Soffia – Brgy. Yapak – 58;
  31. Isla Azul Boracay Hotel – Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag – 14;
  32. Isla Gecko Resort – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 16;
  33. Island Inn – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 26;
  34. Jeffrey S Hotel – Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag – 15;
  35. Jony’s Beach Resort – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 21;
  36. Jony’s Boutique Hotel – Main Road3, Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 22;
  37. Lady Jean Resort – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 7 ;
  38. Lanterna Hotel – Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag – 6;
  39. Lugar Bonito – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 6;
  40. Luxx Boutique Hotel Boracay – Sitio Manggayad,Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 11;
  41. Milflores de Boracay (Jinjiang Inn) – Main Road, Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 10;
  42. Moreno’s Cottages – Sitio Ambulong, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Station 3 – 6;
  43. Nigi-Nigi Nu Noos’E NuNuNoos – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 37;
  44. Nirvana Beach Resort – Main Road, Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 32;
  45. Ocean Breeze – Sitio Ambulong, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Station 3 –7;
  46. Paradise Garden Resort Hotel & Convention Center – Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Station 3 – 463;
  47. Pinjalo Resort (Jade Hill Project Property) – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 24;
  48. Red Coconut Beach Hotel – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 50;
  49. Reef Retreat Beach Resort – Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag– 12;
  50. Roy’s Rendevous Resort & Bungalow – Sitio Ambulong, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Station 3 – 10;
  51. Shangri-la Resort – Brgy. Yapak – 219;
  52. Shore Time Hotel-Annex – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 12;
  53. Sol Y Sombra – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 5;
  54. Vincent Cottages (Vicente Aguirre Rooms) – Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Station 3 – 27;
  55. Sulu Plaza Lodge – Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Station 3 – 12;
  56. Sunshine Place – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 9;
  57. Tan’s Guesthouse Main – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 14;
  58. Tan’s Guesthouse Annex – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 14;
  59. Taj Resort and Spa Main – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 11;
  60. Taj Resort and Spa Annex – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 18;
  61. The Club Ten Beach Resort – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 20;
  62. The Ferra Premier by JG Hotel – Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag – 36;
  63. The Lazy Dog Cottages – Sitio Bulabog, Brgy. Balabag – 26;
  64. The Strand Boutique Hotel – Sitio Sinagpa, Brgy. Balabag – 13;
  65. Villa Simprosa – Brgy. Balabag, Station 2 – 24;
  66. Villa Sunset Boracay – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 8;
  67. White Beach de Boracay – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 – 5; and,
  68. White House Beach Resort – Brgy. Balabag, Station 1 –30;

The “no compliance, no operation” policy for establishments will be enforced not only during the dry run period, but beyond Boracay’s formal reopening. Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, head of the BIATF, said that “We will not hesitate to close hotels and other establishments that would operate without clearance from the BIATF.” He also warned tourists who are planning to visit the island to make sure that they book their accommodations only with compliant hotels and establishments.2

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat assured tourists that more hotels will be added to this list as soon as they comply with all government-required policies. She recommended that tourists should check on DoT’s Facebook page to confirm if the establishment they are booked in is accredited.3

So, book ahead of time and only with the right establishments because, according to Undersecretary Sherwin Rigor of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), only a daily tourist entrance of 6,405 (who are presumed to stay for only 3 days and 2 nights) is allowed.See my other related blogs: Say, Say, Say: WHAT CAN WE EXPECT DURING THE REOPENING OF BORACAY ON OCTOBER 26, 2018? and Short and Simple: WHAT IS THE TOURIST CARRYING CAPACITY FOR BORACAY’S 2018 RE-OPENING?

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you regarding your comments about the reopening of Boracay. 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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1www.denr.gov.ph

2www.philstar.com

3www.news.abs-cbn.com

Featured Image credits: Top (l-r): http://www.boracaytropics.com/photo-gallery.php; https://www.fairwaysandbluewater.com.ph/gallery/; Bottom (l-r): http://www.casapilarboracay.com/gallery/; http://www.redcoconut.com.ph/gallery/

 

Taal, Batangas, Philippines: OUR LADY OF CAYSASAY– The “Queen of the Archdiocese of Lipa”

Our Lady of Caysasay is a wooden statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary venerated at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay and the Taal Basilica, in the town of Taal, in the province of Batangas, Philippines.

                A-Shrine-0                 Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay facade and altar

I saw this image at the altar of the said shrine as part of the heritage tour of Taal, with my college buddies.

Upon entering the shrine, our tour guide asked us to sit on pews beside the painting of the depiction of the recovery of this statue located at the left wall, about four meters from the shrine’s entrance.

 

A-Shrine-5-post

He gave a history of the statue and shrine, then directed us to start walking and to turn right at the altar, go to the side of the shrine, and climb the stairs.

 

A-Shrine-1-post

This led to the back of the altar where the statue was enshrined.

We were asked to write our petitions and we gave a voluntary donation. There were many people who were there when my group arrived, and we fell in line to have the chance to touch the miraculous statue.

During my turn, I was able to hold the back of its garment. I did not attempt to reach out to touch the statue for fear of its fragile state. I just said a prayer and asked blessings for myself, my family, friends and our beloved country as a whole.

 

A-Shrine-3-post                                      Suggested prayers to Our Lady of Caysasay

For religious senior citizens or PWDs, take your time to climb/go down the stairs, and ask a younger member of your group to hold and guide you.

In summary, here are 8 facts about Our Lady of Caysasay:

  1. This wooden statue measures about 272 mm (10.7 inches) and shows the Virgin as tilting slightly forward, with hands clasped across her breasts below her right shoulder. Its crown has 13 stars. One eye is slightly bigger than the other.

A-Shrine-19-post

2. The image, which depicts the Immaculate Concepcion, is believed to be one of the oldest in the country, having been found in 1603 by Juan Maningcad, who was fishing in the Pansipit River, a small river that is the sole drainage outlet of Taal Lake.

 

It was found wearing a simple, red tunic gathered above its waist creating huge folds around the ankles, and clad in a green shawl. The image had a heavenly luster, even though it was waterlogged, causing Juan to prostrate himself and pray before the statue. He then brought it home.

There are different versions how the statue landed in the river. Regardless, news of the image began to spread until it reached the parish priest, Fray Juan Bautista Montoya, and the vicar that represented the reigning King of Spain. They went to Juan’s house to verify the story, and upon seeing the image, knelt down and venerated it.

3. Doña Maria Espiritu, the widow of the town’s judge, was assigned as the image’s camarera (caretaker). She ordered a precious urna (a wooden, canopied shrine that sometimes has glass panes) to be made for the image and kept it in her home.

Every evening, she noticed that the image went missing from its urna, but then in the morning, it would be back in its usual place. Worried, the widow told the story to the priest, who accompanied her back to her house and saw that the urna was empty. The urna suddenly opened and the image appeared before them. The priest decided to gather volunteers to keep vigil beside the image, and during the night they did see the urna open by itself, and the image leaving and coming back again.

Finally, the priest decided that the villagers should now come with lighted candles and follow the image the next time it left. When this happened, the image led them to Caysasay, to the place where it was originally found.

The priest decided to take the image to the Basilica of Saint Martin de Tours for safekeeping, but the image continued to leave the church until one day, it disappeared and was nowhere to be found.

4. Years later, 2 girls, named Maria Bagohin and Maria Talain, were gathering firewood, and saw the image reflected in the waters of a spring near where Juan Maningcad had found it. They looked up and saw the image of Our Lady of Caysasay on top of a tall sampaguita bush, flanked by 2 candles and guarded by several casay-casay (silvery kingfisher, Alcedoargentata) that abounded in the hillside area, thus called Caysasay by the Spaniards.

The two girls reported what they saw to the parish priest, who, with the people, concluded that it was the Virgin’s wish to stay in Caysasay. A makeshift chapel was built on the very spot where the image was found, and native devotion to the Our Lady of Caysasay started even without official church sanction.

Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde, SJ, in his Historia de Filipinas and other 18th century Spanish chroniclers put the year 1611 as the year when natives began reporting strange visions on the hillside. This was also the year, according to Fr. Pedro G. Galende, Director of the San Agustin Museum in Intramuros, that the first makeshift church was reportedly built there.

5. The subsequent Marian apparitions documented by Spanish colonial church leaders were the first in the country, and devotees today continue to attribute miracles to the Virgin.

6. The image was canonically crowned1 on December 8, 1954, by Pope Pius XII, and was later given the title the “Queen of the Archdiocese of Lipa”.

A-Shrine-22-ok

 

7. Its feast day is celebrated every December 8 by the barangay where it belongs, Barangay Caysasay. That evening, the statue is transferred to the Taal Basilica through a fluvial parade. However, since the Pansipit River is only waist deep, the residents pull the banca till they reach the bridge of Taal. This is followed by a parade to the Basilica. The statue stays in the Basilica till the next day, the fiesta of the town of Taal. It is then returned to the shrine through a procession or through a prepared carriage.

8. Originally, the image spent half the week in the Shrine of Caysasay, and the other half at the Basilica de San Martin de Tours, to satisfy the needs of the locals and followers. However, nowadays, the statue is housed in the shrine and is only brought to the Basilica the night of December 8 till December 9.

Most of the information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Our Lady of Caysasay”2 and some information was given by ourtour guide, Mr. Art Mojica (09165378973 and atmojica660@yahoo.com). Contact him for an enlightening heritage tour of Taal.

I paid for my tour so this is not a sponsored post.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you. Have you ever been to the Archdiocesan Shrine of Caysasay and experienced touching the image? Simply scroll to “Leave a Reply” and enter your comment in the box. Please scroll and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

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1A canonical coronation is a pious institutional act of the Pope, duly expressed in a Papal bull3 in which oftentimes a Papal legate4 or Papal nuncio5, or at rare occasions, the Pontiff himself designates a crown, tiara, or stellar halo to an image with a specific devotional title that is prominently venerated in a particular diocese or locality, according to the Wikipedia page “Canonical coronation”.6

2“Our Lady of Caysasay,” accessed September 7, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Caysasay.

3Papal bull is a type of public decree or charter issued by a Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, according to the Wikipedia page “Papal bull”.7

4A Papal legate, or Apostolic legate, is a personal representative of the Pope to foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic Church, according to the Wikipedia page “Papal legate”.8

5A Papal nuncio, Apostolic nuncio or nuncio, is an ecclesiastical diplomat who serves as an envoy, or a permanent diplomatic representative of the Holy See to a state or to an international organization, according to the Wikipedia page “Papal diplomacy”.9

6“Canonical coronation,” accessed September 7, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canonical_coronation.

7“Papal bull,” accessed September 7, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_bull.

8“Papal legate,” accessed September 7, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_legate.9“Papal diplomacy,” accessed September 7, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_diplomacy.

Say, Say, Say: WHAT CAN WE EXPECT DURING THE REOPENING OF BORACAY ON OCTOBER 26, 2018?

I am so sure a lot of Filipino and foreign tourists are eager to return to Boracay, starting on its reopening date – October 26, 2018, to see and appreciate the changes in the island. First timers must likewise be looking forward to finally seeing Boracay.

Here are some relevant details which I researched to-date and my comments:

1.The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) recently announced that Boracay should have 19,000 tourist carrying capacity per day, based on the number of workers and the local population. The island can only accommodate a total of 55,000 people (local population, workers and tourists, combined).

So, better book ahead of time! See a related post: Short and Simple: WHAT IS THE TOURIST CARRYING CAPACITY FOR BORACAY’S 2018 RE-OPENING?

2. A dry run is scheduled from October 15 – October 25, 2018. It will be open to local tourists, with priority given to Aklanons, in order to assess what else needs to be done before the island is reopened to all tourists, both domestic and foreign, on October 26.3

Great idea! Aklanons, the residents of the province of Aklan where the town of Malay is located, should indeed be given priority and their inputs, as stakeholders, would surely be valuable prior to Boracay’s formal opening date.

3. The government will publish a list of establishments that are compliant with environmental laws to make sure that only these businesses can accept tourists.1

The public must, therefore, wait for that list and book rooms only from such newly accredited establishments. Government authorities, please release the list asap so those eager to visit the island can make the necessary bookings since only a limited number of lodging establishments have been accredited to-date. I am calling on the website administrators of the local government unit and Department of Tourism (DoT)-Region VI and Malay offices to feature the accredited list for interested Boracay visitors, and to update it regularly to be tourist-friendly.

4. Only about 3,000-5,000 of the total 15,000 hotel rooms can be made available to tourists during the reopening date. The rest still need to comply with the new permits and accreditation requirements set by the multi-agency task force.1An estimated 50% (7,500 rooms) of the actual room capacity of the island is expected to be available by the end of 2018, according to DoT Regional Director Helen Catalbas.

Dear tourists, be sure to book with newly accredited establishments only.

5. Big and noisy parties, like the summer festivity marking Labor Day, “LaBoracay” will no longer be allowed since the latter recorded 40,000-50,000 tourist arrivals, and resulted in over 100,000 people in the island at a time, nearly double Boracay’s total carrying capacity. Only smaller parties will be allowed so the rest of the island visitors will enjoy peace and quiet!

Let’s reinvent “fun” in the island! There’s more fun in rehabilitated Boracay!

6. Smoking and drinking along theWhite Beach4 of Boracay will no longer be allowed. These activities will be allowed only in designated areas in hotels, resorts or similar forms of accommodation, and other hospitality establishments.1The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) announced that White Beach is already clean.

I can’t wait to walk on this clean powdery white sand beach!

7. The municipality of Malay, to where Boracay belongs, passed Municipal Ordinance No. 386, Series of 2018, which prohibits the use of single-use, or disposable, plastic items by hotels, resorts, restaurants, and other related establishments.2

Welcome news, indeed! This leads to crucial questions like:should plastic be totally banned from the island? how about biodegradable plastics? The local government should provide segregated-style garbage cansin various areas, so tourists can properly dispose of their garbage in designated containers/areas only. Stiff fines for littering, especially on the beach, should also be set. How about bringing personal water bottles while going around the island? Dear tourists, do you have other suggestions on how we can help in this regard?

8. By the end of July 2018, road clearing and demotion of structures for the road widening project was about 85% complete, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The PHP490 million rehabilitation of the 4.12-km main road from Cagban Jetty Port, 5 minutes away from the Caticlan Airport (where boats leave for Boracay island), to the Elizalde property was 15% complete.2

So, early tourists, some roads will still be unfinished during reopening date; please be patient. But no worries, the 4-km White Beach4 will be open just for you! Your required daily 10,000 steps, when taken along this white sand beach, will surely not only be healthful for you, but memorable as well, with lots of selfies and group pictures, from sunrise to sunset!

9. Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III announced that rehabilitation will continue in the island and this includes the improvement in the quality of the water around the island. By the end of June 2018, the formerly brown and stinking water of Bulabog Beach5 was already “bluish” and with no unpleasant smell.3

Wonderful news indeed, especially for budget tourists, kiteboarders, windsurfers and scuba divers who go to Bulabog Beach.

10. The Environmental Management Bureau-Western Visayas (EMB-6) conducted daily and weekly statistics lab laboratory tests of the island’s water quality. The level of coliform concentration of the water in the front beach was already at the safe level of 400 MPN (most probable number) per 100 ml (milliliters).2

Thank you, EMB-6! Please continue to regularly monitor the water quality of the island!

11. Demolition activities, for the widening of roads, were about 65% complete as of end of June 2018.3 These involved removal of establishments which illegally encroached: on the 25+5 meter easement on the shore, on the water, forestlands, and wetlands.

This is great for Boracay’s sustainable tourism9!

12. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ordered all hotels, from Stations 16, 27 and 38 with 50 rooms and above, to have their own sewage treatment plants (STPs). Accommodations with less than 50 rooms were instructed to have a clustered STP, or opt to have their own STPs. Other sewage lines are still being laid out.

The two water suppliers, Boracay Island Water Co. and Boracay Tubi Systems Inc., were ordered to expand the capacity of their respective STPs, and were encouraged to explore the best approaches and solutions to their sewage and wastewater problems. The sewage pipeline of Boracay Island Water Co., which serviced 4 large establishments and 76 smaller ones, was decommissioned since it violated the 25+5-meter easement rule and the no-build zone along the shoreline.

The total STP capacity of Boracay is only 12 million liters per day (MLD) but the wastewater to be treated is 15 MLD, and more than 200 big establishments are still not connected to the sewer lines.10 

Hurry up, big and small establishments! To the two water suppliers, please comply with set STP rules and regulations. To DENR, please closely, and regularly, monitor their lines and adherence to rules/regulations.

13.  About 8 international cruise ships have already scheduled stops in Boracay from when it reopens till 2019, according to Department of Tourism-Western Visayas (DoT-6) Regional Director Helen J. Catalbas (e.g., Royal Caribbean Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Star Cruises). They have been cleared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regarding potential damage to underwater reefs. DENR explained that corals thrive in shallow waters, while cruise ships drop anchor in deeper parts of the sea. Thus, the anchorage of cruise ships will not cause damage to the corals.10

I am calling on the authorities to monitor these ships on our waters come the reopening period and beyond!Please provide the appropriate water transportation and trained personnel to access such waters, monitor these cruise ships, and ensure that they will not dump any waste/garbage in our seas while they are anchored in our waters!

14. Only electric tricycles (e-trikes) will be allowed in Boracay when it reopens. In this regard, the Department of Energy (DOE) initially donated 50 new e-trikes with long-lasting batteries, during the 2nd week of September 2018. to augment the 50 existing e-trikes on the island. This move aimed for an efficient and environment-friendly mode of transportation in Boracay. Each unit can carry 6-8 passengers. An extra battery was also given per unit to spare current tricycle drivers downtime when they start using them.The DOE will also deploy some electric passenger jeepneys on the island within September. Old tricycles will be phased out on the island in compliance with Executive Order No. 007-2018 issued by Malay Major Ceciron Cawaling. About a thousand tricycles in Boracay will be taken out of the island and changed to e-trikes, and brought to mainland Malay, particularly to

Great news for our lungs! Less air pollution!

15. The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force will formulate policies that will ensure that the rehabilitation efforts of the island can be sustained.2  

Hurray for sustainable tourism9!

16. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Presidential Proclamation No. 1064 in 2006 which classified Boracay Island as a “forestland and agricultural land”.1President Rodrigo Duterte said that the island has never been open to any “commercial exploitation” and remains as a “forestland and agricultural land”. No president has declared the island as a commercial area. Thus, a committee to facilitate the land distribution in Boracay, after the rehabilitation of the island, will be created. Definitely, ownership issues will arise once the government is done with its clean-up of the island.10 But President Duterte vowed to bring Boracay back to its original inhabitants.

The rights of the original ethnic inhabitants must be respected!

17. President Duterte ordered the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to study how land could be redistributed to the locals through land reform. He said only the beach front can be used for commercial purposes but the rest of the island would be subjected to land reform. Some 400 hectares of forestland will be restored by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), according to DAR Secretary John Castriciones.1 The latter said that about 20-25 hectares are ready for redistribution but that the other agricultural lots will take time because there are structures built on this government land.

Just give what is due the original inhabitants!

Bottomline, the DILG and DOT want Boracay to be clean and become a peaceful and enjoyable island get-away.1 DOT Regional Director Helen Catalbas said Boracay is envisioned to have “a very clean beach, wider streets and less potholes.” The reopening will be “low key” because “rehabilitation is a work in progress.”2

So, what can we expect when Boracay reopens come October 26, 2018? Well, based on the above, we will be looking forward to:

  1. A cleaner and more peaceful white sand beach with the correct easement of 25+5 meters for all to enjoy without any obstruction — good for walks from sunrise till sunset;
  2. Clean water to swim in, without fear of coliform or illegal sewage disposal;
  3. The strict implementation of the tourist carrying capacity, i.e., only 19,000 tourists per day in the island;
  4. Wider paved streets with sidewalks for pedestrians;
  5. A better drainage system and preservation of wetlands that are well-maintained so that the streets will not be easily flooded;
  6. E-jeepneys and E-trikes as public transportation so there will be less air pollution;
  7. The two water suppliers, Boracay Island Water Co. and Boracay Tubi Systems Inc., will get their act together to ensure a proper and safe sewerage system;
  8. A more conscious and responsible community (tourists, businesses, employees and local residents) united to protect the environment and follow rules and regulations for sustainable tourism9;
  9. Eventually, all commercial establishments, owners and employees, will comply with the government requirements to operate;
  10. No casino in the island! President Duterte said “There will never be one!” and that gambling has “deleterious effects” and should be reduced to the “barest minimum”;11
  11. A more responsible local government which will be strict in enforcing rules and regulations set by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force;
  12. A more understanding, cooperative and responsible domestic or foreign tourist who appreciates the efforts of the national/local government so s/he will not mind stricter rules/regulations as well as on-going rehabilitation projects in the island for the rest of 2018, or until all rehabilitation plans have been implemented;
  13. An island which is still being rehabilitated and starting to recover, or “heal”, from mass tourism and environmental problems;
  14. A successful sustainable tourism9 and sustainable transportation12 program for the island, and for the next generations to enjoy as well; and,
  15. An island for the aborigines who may have been displaced due to mass tourism. The government, once and for all, should clear all land title issues and give the aborigines what is rightfully theirs, extend all possible assistance for their decent livelihood, and a better future for their next generations!

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you regarding your comments regarding the reopening of Boracay. 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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1www.news.abs-cbn.com

2www.pna.gov.ph

3www.denr.gov.ph

4The White Beach of Boracay refers to the main, biggest, and most popular beach area of island. It is divided into Stations 1, 2 and 3.6, 7, 8

5Bulabog Beach is the second most popular beach in Boracay since it is the main windsurfing and kiteboarding area, particularly from October till May, with just the right strength of the wind and waves. Scuba diving is also offered in this beach, located at the eastern part of Boracay. It is located at the opposite end of White Beach4, about 5 minutes walking distance from D’Mall in Station 27.

6Station 1 is the north end of White Beach4 of Boracay which is where the luxurious resorts are located. This station’s beach front is wider, the sand seems whiter, and the water is shallower, compared to the two other stations. It is a quiet station at night, although it has clubs within walking distance. Willy’s Rock, a natural rock formation and an iconic Boracay landmark, is located in this station. The sand castle designed with “Boracay” and the current date, where one can pose for a picture, for a fee, is also found in this station. City Mall Boracay, which opened on February 25, 20171, is likewise located here.

7Station 2 is the central part of White Beach4 in the island of Boracay. The water is less shallow than Station1. It offers an active night life (bars and clubs that may offer live music), mid-range priced accommodations, and is known as the shopping area of the island, what with D’Mall (the original shopping area in Boracay), and D’Talipapa (an area which offers local souvenir items, plusa seafood wet market with nearby restaurants to cook your picks).

8Station 3 is located at the opposite end of Station 16 of Boracay’s White Beach4, known to offer budget accommodations, but also features boutique and other secluded/high-end accommodations. The water becomes suddenly deep. It is a quiet station, compared to the first 2 stations, although it offers some bars and clubs too.

9Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a destination as a tourist and trying to make a positive impact on the environment13, society, and economy. Tourism development should always be sustainable but how to achieve this is debatable, according to Wikipedia page “Sustainable tourism”.14

10www.philstar.com

11www.bworldonline.com

12Sustainable transportation, or sustainable mobility, refers to transportation that is sustainable in terms of social, environmental and climate impacts, and the ability to, in the global scope, supply the source energy indefinitely, according to the Wikipedia page “Sustainable transport”.15

13The impact on the environment, or environmental issues, refers to the harmful effects of human activity on the biophysical environment16, according to the Wikipedia page “Environmental issue.”17

14“Sustainable tourism,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_tourism.

15“Sustainable transport,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_transport.

16The human impact on the environment includes the changes to biophysical environments18 and ecosystems19, biodiversity20, and natural resources, caused directly or indirectly by humans, including global warming21, environmental degradation22, mass extinction and biodiversity loss, ecological crises, and ecological collapse, according to the Wikipedia page “Human impact on the environment”.23

17“Environmental issue,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_issue.

18A biophysical environment of a population refers to the (living and non-living) surroundings of a population, and consequently includes the factors that have an influence in its survival, development and evolution, according to the Wikipedia page “Biophysical environment”.24

19An ecosystem is a community made up of living organisms and non-living components (air, mineral soil and water), according to the Wikipedia page “Ecosystem”.25

20Biodiversity refers to the variety and variability of life on Earth, according to the Wikipedia page “Biodiversity”.26

21Global warming, or climate change, is the observed century-scale rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system and its related effects, according to the Wikipedia page “Global warming”.27

22Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through the depletion of resources such as air, soil and water; the destruction of ecosystems20; habitat destruction; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution, according to the Wikipedia page “Environmental degradation”.28

23“Human impact on the environment,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_impact_on_the_environment.

24“Biophysical environment,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biophysical_environment.

25“Ecosystem,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosystem.

26“Biodiversity,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiversity.

27“Global warming,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming.

28“Environmental degradation,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_degradation.

Metro Manila’s Newest and Most Delectable Museum: THE DESSERT MUSEUM

Location: Units 124, 126 and 127a, Coral Way, S. Maison Mall (located below Conrad Hotel Manila, near Starbucks S Maison), Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines

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Hello, dearest Filipino Seniors! Admit it, you miss your grandchildren, right? Are you thinking of a new place to bond with them? A place that they will surely enjoy — complete with unlimited Instagram-able picture-taking opportunities — and, one that will satisfy their sweet tooth too? Well, I have a suggestion for you and it is in the Mall of Asia1 (MoA) Complex: THE DESSERT MUSEUM!

0-map-cite source-pk                 Location Map. The Dessert Museum (from http://www.dessertmuseum.com)

The Dessert Museum is a 12,000 sq. ft. venue of different desserts, consisting of 8 mouthwatering and colorful rooms of sugar-filled happiness (in order of entry): the Raining Donuts Room, the Room of Ten Thousand Marshmallows, the Candy Cane Groves, the Ice Cream Room, the Room of Never-Ending Bubbles (or Bubblegum Room), the Gummy Bear Room, the Cotton Candy Forest, and the Cake Pops Carnival. This is the only museum you’ll ever (literally) slide into!2 I wish I used the slide, but I was the designated photo- and video-grapher!

This museum opened on February 10, 2018.2 The tour takes about two hours, depending on how long the kids want to enjoy each room, sample the goodies, and pose non-stop for pictures to be posted in various social media apps. However, you are advised to stay in each room for a maximum of 15 minutes and to go through the museum once, and only move forward.2

This museum is open from 10 am till 10 pm. Take note, last tickets are sold by 8 pm.2 It is recommended for all ages who enjoy taking selfies and group photos. It is for kids and the kids-at-heart, and is a great family-bonding venue, especially for those with young kids and IG-savvy teenagers! If you have a PWD in your group, good news! The venue is wheelchair-accessible! Sorry, though, no pets are allowed.

For Seniors who are pre-diabetics or diabetics, you can still go as long as you do not partake of the complimentary sweets – just pose with your grandchildren, claim your share of the sweets, and give them to your grandchildren! What the heck! This is a new and exciting venue for solo, group, and whole family picture-taking! Just think of the smiles and laughter of your grandchildren – so precious!

This museum is located within the MoA1 complex so you can easily opt to eat before, or after, your tour.0-facade

There are more than 200 restaurants in the said complex to choose from!2

The (walk-in) entrance fee is PHP799 (for ages 2-yo onwards), which some might consider pricey, so do not forget your Senior Citizen/PWD cards.

For a hassle-free and cheaper option, I recommend you go online, at least one day before your intended visit, to either:

(1) www.thedessertmuseum.com, and pay only PHP699 per person – you can pay via (a) PayPal or credit card (using PayPal, even if you do not have a PayPal account and you do not need to sign up) or, (b) Dragonpay, which allows BPI, BDO (online banking and over the counter), LBC, and Cebuana; or,

(2) Metrodeal or Klook, and avail of a 25% discount (then pay only PHP599).

Kids below 2-yo are free to enter but are not entitled to a wristband (see 6 paragraphs below), ergo, they will not be given complimentary sweets.

If your group consists of 10 or more members, email: events@thedessertmuseum.com

What’s that I hear that you do not know the location of MoA2? No worries, use WAZE/UBER: and look for “Starbucks Reserve, Conrad Hotel Manila”.2

If possible, go on weekdays since weekends and holidays could be crowded. We went early on a Saturday and there were only a few people with us on the second batch of the day. More groups arrived thereafter.

0-entrance-okThe view upon entry (the registration desk is to the left); stools to sit on to wait for your group to enter; a fairy gives a brief welcome; the fairy leaves and your group goes up the same stairs where she stood, all pass through the large pink doughnut; and, a difficult choice comes next: will you slide your way to the Doughnut Room or do you use the yellow steps? Your choice … regardless, your sweet adventure begins! Enjoy!

It is not so cold in the rooms so be sure to wear light cottony, sporty clothes and comfortable footwear. Go to the rest room before the two-hour tour to be sure you will not be inconvenienced therein (remember, you cannot re-enter). Just to be on the safe side, people with allergic rhinitis, should take an antihistamine tablet beforehand.

Do not make kids wear any expensive jewelry or other accessories that might hinder their enjoyment of each room. I suggest non-slippery footwear for kids to avoid accidents, but these should be easily removable to enjoy the ball pit in the Ice Cream Room, for example, and worn again to proceed to the next rooms.

Fully charge your cellphones and power banks for lots of photos and videos! The use of photoshoot equipment like tripods, lighting materials and props are strictly prohibited unless your group will avail of the museum’s photo shoot package (see end of this post).2

Do not forget to bring water since you will definitely need it after tasting each complimentary sweet. Water is for sale but is a bit pricey at PHP50 per regular-sized bottle.

Visitors are asked to sign a waiver form (sorry, I cannot say anything about this since a niece of mine registered for us). Do inform the staff if any person in your group has an allergy to eggs, fruits, milk, peanuts, soy, tree-nuts, wheat, etc.

Assign a person in your group to keep an eye on gadgets and other valuables while the kids are playing in each room.

Bring Wet Ones to clean the hands of the kids before and after they eat the sweets in each room, after touching the different parts of, or decorations in, each room, and to wipe away bits of sweets on their faces. Instruct the older kids to dispose of garbage in designated trash cans.

The museum provides lockers for rent to secure your large bags and keep baby carriages/strollers safe during your 2-hour tour. I paid PHP150 to secure a backpack and a stroller.0-lockers-ok

There are tours every 10 to 15 minutes, starting at 10:15 am. I suggest you come early so your group will have more time to pose for as many photos, and for as long, as you want, and need not wait too long for your turn to pose in front of certain backgrounds – there are just so many to choose from!

For those who booked online, be there about 15 minutes before your reserved time slot. If you arrive late, you could be subjected to a rebooking fee per person (PHP50 per person, 3 days prior to arrival; PHP200, 4 days prior to arrival), or lose your slot for the day. For unused tickets, email tickets@thedessertmuseum.com to change dates, depending on availability, subject to PHP200 rebooking fee. However, slots or tickets that remain unused after 7 days from the booked date will be forfeited. All tickets are non-refundable.2

Each visitor is given a pink rubber wristband which you will need to present for electronic scanning to avail of a complimentary sweet in 5 to 7, out of the 8, rooms.0-wristband

I would like to caution you, dear visitors, be sure to secure the wristbands of the kids since it easily gets loose and might get lost during the tour. The wristbands need to be surrendered to a security guard at the end of the tour and each lost wristband will cost you PHP300.0-exit

In our group, my husband collected the wristbands of all the kids and the yayas3 and presented these to the staff per room for scanning to claim the complimentary sweets. The kids, attended by the yayas3, freely enjoyed the swing, slide, seesaw, giant gumball machine, trampoline, plastic ball pit, etc., without worrying about the wristbands.

The tour starts with a female staff, dressed like a fairy, who orients the visitors about the museum and briefly gives reminders regarding safety.0-fairy

All rooms are appropriately decorated and painted based on the theme, generally clean, attractive to all millennials, and definitely Instagram-able! Do not forget to add: #TheDessertMuseum in your pictures.2

The staff are generally accommodating and polite, and wear colorful costumes.

Read the amazing fun facts about each dessert on the wall with your grandchildren, especially those who have just started reading. This will make the tour more meaningful and unforgettable, and certainly a memorable learning experience for the kids!

An official in-house photographer can take your pictures so everyone in your group will be included in your pictures. I was in a hurry to leave the room so I just took this candid picture of a pair being photographed at the Candy Cane Groves Room.Z-photographer-ok

Then, you can have these pictures printed at the end of the tour while you go over the sweets and souvenir items sold at the dessert shop. Sorry, I did not check the prices of items for sale in the shop.0-store-collage-ok

Here are the photo packages:0-photo-packages

Before you leave each room, proceed to the dessert counter therein, have your pink wristband scanned, and enjoy the complimentary sweet!

Most of the time you have no choice as to the complimentary item but in a couple of rooms, you could be asked to choose: like in the Room of Ten Thousand Marshmallows, you will be given a giant white marshmallow on a stick, and asked to choose the flavor of the coating; and in the Ice Cream Room, my favorite, you will be asked to choose the flavor of your popsicle.

Take more pictures while savoring the sweets! I told you, non-stop picture-taking!

Here is a brief description per room:

The first room is called the Raining Donuts Room. Its walls are painted pale yellow, and decorated with small doughnuts in different colors and designs. The main feature of this room is the part with lots of huge pink doughnuts hanging from the ceiling. However, be aware that these hanging doughnuts are made from a hard material so be sure to protect the heads of the smaller kids. But I assure you, the pictures are very IG-able in this room, along with the 7 other rooms. Sorry, but we did not like the give-away in this room.

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The Room of Ten Thousand Marshmallows is the next room. The walls are painted blue, and the room is filled with white marshmallows strung from the ceiling. Take wonderful photos again in this room! Visitors, upon scanning their wristbands, are given a giant white marshmallow on a stick, in a small white paper cup, and asked if they want Snowy Vanilla or Choco Loco coating with it, straight from the chocolate fondue fountains. Most of the kids chose, and enjoyed, the Choco Loco coating. I gave away my share.

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The room called Candy Cane Groves comes next. It is very colorful and offers a seesaw and swing, along with lots of multi-colored candy cane decorations and IG-spots! Get lots of photos and videos here too! The kids enjoyed the complimentary candy canes, resulting in them getting colored tongues! I gave away my share in this room too.

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The Ice Cream Room is a favorite of mine. Photos and videos are very picturesque, what with the combination of the multi-colored ball pit and the colorful air balloons. Personally, this room offers the best complimentary dessert: a choice of Frozen Avocado Cream or Mango Madness popsicles. I enjoyed the first one, but the latter is also good, according to my other group members.

0-4-ice cram room

The kids, and kids-at-heart, will enjoy the Room of Never-Ending Bubbles, or Bubblegum Room, which features a giant gumball machine with balloons of different colors being blown all over the inflated structure while about 8 people are allowed inside. Do not hesitate to take pictures and videos of the members of your family/group enjoying their two-minute stay inside that “machine”. I cannot recall any giveaway in this room.

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The Gummy Bear Room is also very colorful. It offers a wall with 4 giant blue inflated gummy bears where your family/group can take beautiful and wacky pictures. I also enjoyed posing in one (of the three) colored bathtubs full of gummy bears and balls, surrounded by balloons in different colors. Sorry, I did not like the giveaway in this room because it had nothing to do with gummy bears!

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The next room is the very attractive and picture-perfect Cotton Candy Forest, with predominantly pink cotton candy-like decorations. Everyone will surely enjoy the giveaway cotton candy!

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The Cake Pops Carnival Room is the last room of the museum, leading to the last stop, the Souvenir Shop. Your family/group can stand or sit on the giant cake pops and create beautiful pictures and videos with different poses per member. The room also offers basketball, with 3 hoops, using soft-rag balls. Two sides of the room have arches of various colors for one last time of picture-taking!

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Contact details -Website: http://www.thedessertmuseum.com; Telephone Numbers: (02) 838-7927; Cellphone Numbers: 0917-3005966 and 0999-2245687; Email – events@thedessertmuseum.com

Interested groups should inquire about their birthday promo, party package, teambuilding promo, private event package, and photo shoot package.

0-party packages                                        party packages, The Dessert Museum

 

This is not a sponsored post. All comments are personal and based on my only experience.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you regarding your experience in this museum. 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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For the benefit of foreign readers:

1The SM Mall of Asia (MoA) is a shopping mall in Bay City, Pasay, in Metro Manila, Philippines, currently the largest shopping mall in the Philippines and the 12th largest in the world. It opened on May 21, 2006, and is located near the Manila Bay, SM Central Business Park, and the southern end of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). It is owned and developed by SM Prime Holdings, the largest mall owner and developer in the Philippines. The complex covers 42 hectares of land area, a gross floor area of about 406,962 sq.m., with more than 600 shops, including 217 dining establishments which attract about 200,000 people daily, according to the Wikipedia page “SM Mall of Asia”.4

2www.thedessertmuseum.com

3A “yaya” is the Tagalog term for nursemaid, wet nurse, or a female household staff who takes care of a kid, usually one per kid.

4”SM Mall of Asia,” accessed September 3, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SM_Mall_of_Asia.

Short and Simple: WHAT IS THE TOURIST CARRYING CAPACITY FOR BORACAY’S 2018 RE-OPENING?

We, Filipinos, have only seriously considered the carrying capacity of our tourist destinations when the very popular island of Boracay was closed on April 26, 2018. The truth hurts, dearest Seniors, and yes, tourism inevitably impacts on tourist destinations!

So, tell me, do we really know what tourist carrying capacity is? Well, just to be sure, and before the October 26 re-opening of Boracay, read on.

The Tourist Carrying Capacity, according to the World Tourism Organization, is the process of determining the maximum number of people that may visit a tourist destination at the same time, without causing the destruction of the physical, economic, socio-cultural environment and an unacceptable decrease in the quality of visitors’ satisfaction.1

Former Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo stated that the carrying capacity of Boracay was set at 25,000 tourists, but, in recent years, it went as high as 75,000!2 Wow, that was triple the set capacity, no wonder the island had problems!

But what is an acceptable carrying capacity for a particular destination? It seems that acceptable conditions are a matter of human judgment and not an inherent quality of a particular site. It is difficult to calculate the maximum number of visitors since this is also dependent on other factors, amidst an unstable and unpredictable world.

So, tourism, environmental, local government, public works and transportation officials, the local community, and other stakeholders must get their act together to objectively implement the carrying capacity not only of Boracay but of other tourism destinations as well, so the latter will not suffer the same fate as the former.

Anyway, these stakeholders must take into consideration the 4 different forms of carrying capacity: physical3, economic4, socio-cultural5, and biophysical6. A framework for the limits for acceptable change7, developed by The US Forest Service in the 1980s, should also be considered, along with sustainable tourism8 and sustainable transport9.

The international tourism industry has generally accepted guidelines or formulas in determining carrying capacity. Alas, there is no one-size-fits-all checklist. Nonetheless, the bottomline, in all cases, is that the natural features of the tourist area, or the things/places that attract visitors to it, should be preserved for the benefit of its residents and the people who may, in the future, want to visit and enjoy them as well.2

The implementation, or enforcement, of the carrying capacity also takes a lot of political will on the part of the tourist area’s local government executives and stakeholders.3 Let this challenge all local government units in the country!

I pray that the 6-month long Boracay closure be the wake-up-call for national, regional, and other local leaders to redo their tourism development plans for all tourist sites, using all the aforementioned factors and setting stiffer penalties for non-compliance of rules/regulations, especially during peak season, and/or when local officials, or their kin, are also owners of tourist facilities.

So, anyway, after waiting so long from authorities, how many tourists will be allowed to go to Boracay, for example, on a daily basis, taking into consideration its current infrastructure, residents, workforce, and state of natural resources? What are the guidelines for ensuring the tourist carrying capacity? Will there be a maximum number of days to stay in the island? Let us wait for such guidelines/policies.

As of end of August 2018, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) set the tourist carrying capacity of Boracay to 19,000, taking the number of workers and the local population into account. And based on a study done by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau11 and the University of the Philippines at Los Baños, Laguna,12 the island can only accommodate a total of 55,000 people (local population, workers and tourists, combined).10

Alas, only 3,000-5,000, out of the 15,000 hotel rooms, can be made available to tourists during the reopening date. The remaining accommodation entities still need to comply with the new permits and accreditation set by the multi-agency task force.10

There will be on-going roadwork/sewage rehabilitation and limited accredited accommodations, among others, when Boracay opens on October 26, but I am sure that the first batches of tourists will be excited to see the changes in the island. Instagram and Facebook will surely be filled with such pictures!

Most of the information was taken from the Wikipedia page “Tourism carrying capacity”.1

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you regarding your concerns about tourist carrying capacity and sustainable tourism, not only in Boracay but other tourist destinations in the Philippines. 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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1”Tourism carrying capacity,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_carrying_capacity.

2www.business.inquirer.net

3The physical carrying capacity (PCC) is the maximum number of tourists that an area is actually able to support. It is the maximum number that can fit on the site at any given time and still allow people to be able to move, i.e., one meter per person. The formula used is: PCC per day = area (in meters squared) x visitors per meter x daily duration. Information is from the Wikipedia page “Tourism carrying capacity”.1

4The economic carrying capacity (ECC) is the level of acceptable change within the local economy of a tourist destination. It is the extent to which a tourist destination is able to accommodate tourist functions without the loss of local activities. It is also used to describe the point at which the increased revenue brought by tourism development is overtaken by the inflation caused by tourism. Information is from the Wikipedia page “Tourism carrying capacity”.1

5The social carrying capacity (SCC) refers to the negative effects of tourism development to the socio-cultural state of a destination. Reduced visitor enjoyment and local tolerance as well as increase in crime rate are indicators that the SCC has been exceeded. Information is from the Wikipedia page “Tourism carrying capacity”.1

6The biophysical carrying capacity (BCC) is the extent to which the natural environment is able to tolerate interference from tourists. This is made more complicated by the fact that because it deals with ecology which is able to regenerate to some extent, so the carrying capacity is when the damage exceeds the habitat’s ability to regenerate. Environmental carrying capacity is also used with reference to ecological and physical parameters, capacity of resources, ecosystems19 and infrastructure. Wildlife sanctuaries, for example, would be better off when there is a set of guidelines for regulating tourism without much disturbance of the wildlife. Information is from the Wikipedia page “Tourism carrying capacity”.1

7The limits of acceptable change (LAC) is based on the idea that any tourist activity has an impact, and therefore visitor management should be based on constant monitoring of the site as well as the objectives established for it. Information is from the Wikipedia page “Tourism carrying capacity”.1

8Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a destination as a tourist and trying to make a positive impact on the environment13, society, and economy. Tourism development should always be sustainable but how to achieve this is debatable, according to Wikipedia page “Sustainable tourism”.14

9Sustainable transport, or sustainable mobility, refers to transportation that is sustainable in terms of social, environmental and climate impacts, and the ability to, in the global scope, supply the source energy indefinitely, according to the Wikipedia page “Sustainable transport”.15

10www.news.abs-cbn.com

11The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) is the principal research and development unit of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) focused on 5 major ecosystems20 of the Philippines: coastal zones and freshwater, forests, grassland and degraded areas, upland farms, and urban areas, created on June 1987.16

12www.denr.gov.ph

13The impact on the environment, or environmental issues, refers to the harmful effects of human activity on the biophysical environment17, according to the Wikipedia page “Environmental issue.”18

14“Sustainable tourism,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_tourism.

15“Sustainable transport,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_transport.

16www.erdb.denr.gov.ph

17The human impact on the environment includes the changes to biophysical environments19 and ecosystems20, biodiversity21, and natural resources, caused directly or indirectly by humans, including global warming22, environmental degradation23, mass extinction and biodiversity loss, ecological crises, and ecological collapse, according to the Wikipedia page “Human impact on the environment”.24

18“Environmental issue,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_issue.

19A biophysical environment of a population refers to the (living and non-living) surroundings of a population, and consequently includes the factors that have an influence in its survival, development and evolution, according to the Wikipedia page “Biophysical environment”.25

20An ecosystem is a community made up of living organisms and non-living components (air, mineral soil and water), according to the Wikipedia page “Ecosystem”.26

21Biodiversity refers to the variety and variability of life on Earth, according to the Wikipedia page “Biodiversity”.27

22Global warming, or climate change, is the observed century-scale rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system and its related effects, according to the Wikipedia page “Global warming”.28

23Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through the depletion of resources such as air, soil and water; the destruction of ecosystems20; habitat destruction; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution, according to the Wikipedia page “Environmental degradation”.29

24“Human impact on the environment,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_impact_on_the_environment.

25“Biophysical environment,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biophysical_environment.

26“Ecosystem,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosystem.

27“Biodiversity,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiversity.

28“Global warming,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming.

29“Environmental degradation,” accessed August 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_degradation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7www.primer.com.ph

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

 9“Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Philippines,”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19www.gmanetwork.com